Comments on this site are welcome but generally I will delete those made anonymously or any posts if they are seen to attack anyone.

Saturday 27 July 2013

A Godwin’s Law for Occult discussions

Mike Godwin (thanks Wikimedia)

In 1990 Mike Godwin stated the Internet adage that as an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches.
Although he was mostly talking about Usenet groups, he thought that given enough time, in any online discussion—regardless of topic or scope—someone inevitably makes a comparison to Hitler or the Nazis.  These days the law is evoked to end a discussion when a Nazi analogy is made.  The writer who made the analogy is usually ruled as having lost the argument.
Over on Facebook Níall MacSiúrtáin suggested that there should be an occult addendum to Godwin’s law to cover esoteric discussion.  Some of the list below I have nicked from that conversation.  Unfortunately it lacks Godwin’s concise nature but if you are thinking of setting up a yahoo group you might like to post this.

A conversation about esoteric subjects shall be deemed over and lost by a person who:
1.    Says that [vital] information is secret and they are forbidden to tell you, but at the same time insists that they have to be believed.
2.    Says his or her Secret Chief told them that [contentious] information.
3.    Says they would like to give you proof but you are not in their Order.
4.    Claims that information is “above your grade”.
5.    Insists, against all evidence,  a person is a spy of [insert some implausible order], or a fundamentalist Christian who is trying to corrupt the [insert your tradition] from within.
6.    Argues that their neo-pagan god worship is more “historically accurate” than another's neo-pagan god worship.
7.    Refers to themselves as being a victim of the sort of persecution that created the “burning times.”
8.    Uses impenetrable anthropological, NLP, alchemical, New Age jargon to answer any magical question.
9.    Tries to trump the conversation with their Reiki master’s certificate or experience in martial arts.
10.    Claims to be a reincarnation of a famous historical figure.
11.    Names their grade, title, or generation removed from Gerald Gardner as a way of claiming seniority.
12.     Publicly claims that they have lineage of any sort from anyone.
13.    Tries to back their case with a long quote with no explanation of how it backs their case in the home that people will just assume they are right.
14.    Is outted using sock-puppets to agree with their ideas or bolster the thread.
15.    Threatens to magically attack someone who does not agree with them (unless as a joke).

Anyway put your suggestions in the comments box.


  1. Very good Nick can not stop laughing, I love the humor with which you write, thank you very much for your great ideas.

  2. Excellent, and so so true! You may wish to add something along the lines of:

    "Claims that their information was sourced from an ancient manuscript discovered in the [insert archive of choice -- e.g. the British Museum, Bodleian Library, Warburg Institute, Arsenal in Paris, etc., etc.], but the manuscript has since gone mysteriously [conveniently] missing, so no amount of scholarship on your part could possibly confirm it.

  3. There is also Anderson's Law, which states that in any online discussion of Catholicism, no matter what the context, the probability that someone will drag in "pedophile priests!" approaches one.

  4. Queensberry Rules the whole way down

  5. Number 15 is perfect to prove one point only, that a (standard) person actually does believe in magik despite their claim not to. Everyone believes in magik enough to say 'actually, I would rather it if you didn't curse me to break a leg... you know... just in case.'